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The Best Screenwriting Advice Ever

So this is the best screenwriting advice ever — that I can think of off the top my head. Hope this advice will be helpful especially six months into a pandemic that sucks all of your creative impulses away leaving you a burned out husk.

I hope they help.

1.How to choose your next project.

“If you have four ideas, all equally viable, I’d recommend writing the one that has the best ending. That’s the one you’ve thought through the most, and the one you’re least likely to abandon midway.” -John August

2. A great time management tip.

Learn to say “no” You’ve got to turn down people who ask you to do extra work. You can do it, just say, “Sorry, I’m just too busy.” Then prepare yourself for their comeback, such as, “But I helped you out last week.” If you anticipate the reaction, you won’t get caught off guard and agree.

3. A great productivity tip.

Every night, write a list of the three most important things you need to do the next day. Put the list on your notepad on your cell phone, or slap a hand-written note on the fridge where you’ll be sure to see it. Don’t do anything else until you’ve finished those three tasks.

4. A great rewrite tip.

What if you’re re-writing your script and now you’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.

Characters who won’t do anything (or don’t want to do anything) are boring characters. When you thought of them, they seemed like cool, funny or original characters. But now they’re not driving the story. Maybe this character, who you thought was the hero, is just a supporting character.
Examine the flow, follow the theme, the attitudes, and the logic. Maybe something’s missing from a character who could be the protagonist. A fatal flaw? A duty, to save someone, or to repay a debt. Maybe he’s on the run. Look into what your characters really want, both internally and externally. The protagonist and the antagonist need to have a strong conflict. You always want a really strong, powerful antagonist who doesn’t give up. Is that what’s missing?

5. Don’t be perfect. Be yourself.

Find your voice. Don’t try to painstakingly craft perfect dialogue. It’ll seem stilted. You want to be good enough, not perfect. Think of your goal as being 80%. For example, you want conversational dialogue. You don’t want it to sound crafted and honed. Think about how it sounds to your ear? Keep it natural, but not boring.
Stay authentic. Steal from real life. Pattern characters after people you know. Write dialogue that’s entertaining and feels real. If you write what you know, you’ll have a lifetime’s worth of original ideas.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Some writers will write a sentence, and then start rewriting. They’re not following a plan. They’re not moving on. They’ll rewrite that sentence six different ways.
Don’t get hung up on details. Perfectionists tend to over-write everything. Remember, it’s the whole screenplay that matters, not every word. Keep the big picture in mind while you’re writing. But don’t get overwhelmed. And don’t obsess over every decision, you’ll make yourself crazy.

7. Of all genres, low-budget horror does particularly well with scant locations.

Look at “Saw,” with it’s evil clown daring his prisoners to do unspeakable tasks in order to escape. Consider “Paranormal Activity,” where the heroes are stuck inside a home filled with frightening surprises. In “10 Cloverfield Lane,” our heroes are held prisoner inside a bomb shelter, as the world is destroyed outside.

Many other genres can work in one basic location. Consider “My Dinner With Andre,” “Talk Radio,” “Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cube,” “Clerks,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Hard Candy,” “Deathtrap,” and “Sleuth.’ Notice these movie cross many genres.

I recommend watching as many of these as you can before writing your low budget script. Get a feel for how much they accomplished with so little in those films. Some of these are more contained than others.

So those are the best tips ever. Good luck.

The Best Screenwriting Advice Ever

David Silverman, MA, LMFT

A lot of careers can really knock you around. The competition is fierce, in graphic design, journalism, you name it -- especially in creative careers in Hollywood. Writers and performers get slammed with rejection constantly. If you're going through something -- anxiety, addiction or depression -- I help people like you get through it. And thrive. Let me help you get your dream back on track.

Please check out my website: My story: my brother grew up with a severe case of OCD, and while I just a kid --- in family therapy with him, I witnessed a miracle as he was transformed, and now is enjoying the life he deserves. I went to Stanford University to study Psychology, and USC Film. I've worked in FIlm/TV and experienced high levels of anxiety, and got slammed with rejection myself. I learned how to get through it. Today, I love to help people to regain the lifestyle they deserve.

David Silverman Psychotherapy

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APA Reference
Silverman, D. (2020). The Best Screenwriting Advice Ever. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Aug 2020
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